Polar fitness app exposed location of soldiers and government agents

Fitness tracker Polar gives away identities & locations of military intelligence worldwide

Polar has since suspended its "explore" map and stated there was no data breach, as the data obtained was from public and not private profiles.

Polar is the manufacturer of such popular running watches as the Polar M200 and M400, as well as fitness-oriented smart watches like the Polar M430 and M600, while its Polar Flow app is used to organize and view user data.

Just six months after competing fitness tracking company Strava came under fire for revealing the location of United States military bases, Finnish wearable company Polar has experienced similar privacy concerns and has suspended its "Explore" service as a result.

Polar produces fitness tracking watches and hardware, all of which connect to its app Polar Flow.

While other fitness monitoring and exercise sharing apps such as Strava have also been found to leak data, Polar publishes more information per user in a more accessible way. According to the investigation, the app's activity tracking map (named "Explore") exposed the home addresses of thousands of users, including soldiers and secret agents. So someone exercising on a military base will not only reveal where the base is, but also where they live as fitness trackers are typically turned off when entering a home, and turned back on when leaving it several hours later (and usually overnight).

"We were able to scrape Polar's site. for individuals' exercise at 200-plus. sensitive sites, and we gathered a list of almost 6500 unique users", researcher Foeke Postma wrote.

Among them are U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria, Guantanamo Bay, those deployed to the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, staffers at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA, military intelligence and cyber security specialists and many others stationed at bases in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Even sensitive personnel often used their real names, making them easy to identify.

The activity map was taken offline last Friday; De Correspondent says it informed the Dutch Ministry of Defense about the issue two weeks ago, and foreign ministries and intelligence agencies have been alerted as well.

And as this comment, and a further Polar statement, suggests, this is a little different to the Strava episode, in which data wasn't automatically set to private.

If that wasn't bad enough, many Polar users are publicly sharing their full names and providing a profile picture.

If you're a Polar user and aren't keen on having your own data out there for the world to see, make sure you have your profile marked as private (which, thankfully, is the default setting).

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